AUSTRALIA: Security center to open in Vanuatu
A center focusing on the security concerns of Pacific island nations will start work in Vanuatu in 2021, Australia said, hosting analysts and sharing information on issues from maritime risks to human trafficking and disinformation.
The Australia-backed Pacific Fusion Centre in Vanuatu’s capital, Port-Vila, will also spotlight issues such as illegal fishing, drug smuggling and climate change, Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Marise Payne said.
In preparation, a team of 21 analysts from 14 Pacific island nations began training in the Australian capital, Canberra, in September 2019.
“It has acted as a reliable source of information for Pacific governments,” Payne said, adding that the analysts advised on issues related to the coronavirus pandemic, food and border security, and combating disinformation.
The move is part of the Pacific Step Up strategy Australia announced in 2018, regarded as a bid to counter the People’s Republic of China’s growing influence in a region where Australia has traditionally been the largest aid donor.
“Vanuatu looks forward to working with Australia to establish the Pacific Fusion Centre, to complement and bolster existing regional security architecture,” Vanuatu Foreign Minister Marc Ati said.